Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Remembering Summertime with Gershwin and Kodaly

We’re celebrating the summer solstice here on Clef Notes this week for those folks who aren’t quite ready for the chilling temps outside! What summery pieces warm you up inside?

One of my favorites is George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from his 1935 folk opera Porgy and Bess. This opera is based on a novel by DuBose Heyward, and is set on Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. While Ira Gershwin often gets full credit as the lyricist for “Summertime,” George collaborated with Heyward himself on much of this project.

Many performers have done arrangements of “Summertime” over the years. Here’s one by a mandolin ensemble. Do you have a favorite arrangement? 

Zoltan Kodaly’s Summer Evening was written for chamber orchestra in 1906. While the title insinuates a program, Kodaly made it known that any programmatic tie does not go beyond the connection to the composer writing the work on summer evenings. Inspired by his meeting with early ethnomusicologist Bela Bartok, this piece uses Hungarian folk idioms. It was later revised for a performance with Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic in 1930. 

We’ll talk more about music for summer next time! 

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